Hamilton finally came to Cleveland and my family is now obsessed. The play, which has been acclaimed as a pop culture phenomenon, totally lived up to the hype and left me in awe of the brilliance of it’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda!
Lin-Manuel is an multi-award-winning composer, lyricist, and actor born on January 16, 1980. He’s best known (to me, at least) for creating and starring in Broadway musicals In the Heights and Hamilton. Hamilton has won a ton of awards. It was awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Drama and earned a record-breaking 16 Tony Nominations, winning 11 Tony Awards including two personally for Miranda. In 2016, Time magazine included Miranda in its annual Time 100 as one of the “Most Influential People in the World”. It was announced in June 2017 that Miranda would be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2018. Basically, he’s the man!
Miranda was born and raised in New York City, to psychologist Luz Towns and political consultant Luis Miranda, Jr. He has an older sister, Luz, who is CFO of the MirRam Group. Miranda’s mother is mostly Puerto Rican, but their ancestors include an interracial couple, Sophie, who was black, and David Towns, who was white; from the early 1800s, this couple spent their lives trying to “outrun slavery as laws and governments changed around them.” Most of the Towns family married Mexican spouses, and Miranda has described his ancestry as “a quarter Mexican”. His name “Lin-Manuel” was inspired by a poem about the Vietnam War, Nana Roja Para Mi Hijo Lin Manuel, by the Puerto Rican writer José Manuel Torres Santiago.
Miranda’s dad has said he knew his son would end up in show business from the time he was in third grade. As a child, Miranda wrote jingles and, as a student at Wesleyan University, he co-founded a hip hop comedy troupe. He wrote the earliest draft of In the Heights during his sophomore year of college in 2000.
While on a vacation in 2008, Miranda read a biography of Alexander Hamilton and it inspired him to write a rap about Hamilton that he performed at the White House in 2009. Miranda says he spent a year writing my Dad’s favorite Hamilton song, “My Shot”, revising it again and again until every verse reflected Alexander Hamilton’s intellect. The lyrics are brilliant! By 2012, Miranda was performing a set of pieces based on the life of Hamilton, the Hamilton Mixtape. In 2015 Hamilton: An American Musical premiered off-Broadway with Miranda starring as the title character. The show opened on Broadway in August 2015. On the first night of Hamilton previews over 700 people lined up for lottery tickets. The Hamilton ticket lottery evolved into “Ham4Ham”, a series of outdoor mini-performances for lottery participants hosted daily by Miranda and cast members for over a year.
In earlier years, Miranda worked as an English teacher at his former high school, wrote for the Manhattan Times as a columnist and restaurant reviewer, and composed music for commercials. But he had a lot of show biz success before and after Hamilton. Miranda’s first Broadway musical, In the Heights, received four 2008 Tony Awards including Best Musical, with Miranda receiving a Tony Award. In the Heights also won a Grammy for its Original Cast Album and was a Finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in Drama. Miranda has appeared in many TV and film productions including: The Electric Company, Sesame Street, The Sopranos, House, Modern Family, How I Met Your Mother, Inside Amy Schumer, Saturday Night Live, DuckTales, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Moana.
In 2016 Miranda contributed music, lyrics and vocals to several songs in Disney’s Moana, earning him an Oscar nomination and Grammy Award for the original song, “How Far I’ll Go.” He is co-starring with Meryl Streep in the film Mary Poppins Returns, which is due to come out in December 2018. He’s also involved in Disney’s upcoming remake of The Little Mermaid. I’m really looking forward to seeing him in those! He will make his debut as a film director with an adaptation of Tick, Tick… Boom!, which he will also produce with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.
Outside of entertainment, Miranda is also quite politically active. After a meeting with President Obama in 2016, Miranda joined Senators Gillibrand, Schumer, and Warren to call for a Senate bill for debt relief for Puerto Rico, and raised funds for rescue efforts and disaster relief after Hurricane Maria in 2017. He has spoken out he created a benefit single, “Almost Like Praying” that raised $22 million and released its Salsa Remix, benefitting the Hispanic Federation’s UNIDOS Fund. He worked with Jennifer Lopez on the charity single, “Love Make The World Go Round” as a tribute to the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting. He powerfully responds to tragedy with music including creating “Found/Tonight” in support of the March For Our Lives anti-gun violence movement.
Miranda received an honorary degree in 2009 from Yeshiva University, becoming the youngest person to receive an honorary degree from that university. Former NYC mayor Ed Koch, presented Miranda with the degree. He received honorary Doctorates from his alma mater, Wesleyan University, and the University of Pennsylvania. Miranda married lawyer and high school friend Vanessa Nadal in 2010. At their wedding, he performed the song “To Life” and the video has been viewed more than 6 million times on YouTube. Miranda and Nadal live in NYC with their two sons, Sebastian and Francisco.
Miranda gave his last performance in Hamilton on July 9, 2016, but vowed to return to the show. I’d really love to be there to see that.
– Karson Baldwin, President, Project RACE Teens